2022 Draft Prospects The San Francisco Giants Could Target
High School Pitchers
After discussing the prep position players, let's now talk about pitching. Drafting prep pitching early is not exactly the front office’s M.O. over the past three years (they prefer to draft it on Day 2) but picking last in every round might push the envelope towards drafting one early, potentially in the first round. Prep pitchers tend to slide so the Giants should be in the sweet spot to get a prep pitcher early if they choose to.
The Perfect Game All-American Classic was available on YouTube a few weeks after it was held. After doing film study, there is one pitcher who stood out the most and that is Andrew Dutkanych IV. Dutkanych stood out in that game because his pitching motion is dynamic, rhythmic, and pretty clean while also throwing a mid-90s heater with an exceptional feel to spin a breaking ball. And that observation was justified when he popped off in the fall.
He will be 19 years old at draft day which is not ideal but his slider is touted as the best in the prep ranks, his curveball is an above-average pitch, his fastball could be plus but it's more of an overpowering pitch rather than a pitch that relied on plus movement, his changeup is developing to be a potential average pitch.
The right-hander from Indiana is an athlete on the mound, but some are worried about his operation on the mound, particularly his arm action. It is not a concern in my book and his athleticism should help him have at least an average command on the mound, potentially better. He's fun to watch and fireworks would go off if he gets drafted by the Giants in the first round.
If you think Dutkanych is the only pitcher that is on the shortlist, just wait until you get to know Illinois left-hander Noah Schultz. Schultz is a unique look on the mound from a hitter's perspective. He is 6'9" and throws from a sidearm slot. That alone easily conjures up Randy Johnson comparisons, but the comparisons don't stop there. Like Johnson, Schultz also has a nasty, high-spin slider with frisbee movement that gets whiffs from both lefties and righties.
However, unlike Johnson, Schultz does not have prime velocity yet. Schultz's fastball is only in the high-80s to low-90s at best, but it has natural tailing movement because of his low arm slot. Also, Schultz's pitching motion is not as aggressive as Johnson’s. You can compare Schultz more to Sean Hjelle, another super tall pitcher who is a great athlete and has a smooth motion on the mound.
His athleticism and smoothness of operation on the mound give Schultz a presently good feel for the strike zone that should only improve and help him develop at least a solid-average control of his repertoire as he matures. Schultz is also currently lean and has a projection in his frame that should help improve his velocity.
Schultz helps improve the lefty pitching depth of the organization, a highly regarded prospect (ranked #37 in MLB.com, #27 in Baseball America, and #17 in Prospects Live rankings), and has better pitchability for a player his size. The height could still scare off some teams, but if there is a team before the Giants' pick that looks at him and sees the potential, he could be gone at pick 31.
The last pitcher on the shortlist is someone who might fit what the front office is looking for the most. San Francisco targeted pitchers who are considered being above-average athletes at the very least with either deceptive or clean but very dynamic mechanics and advanced pitchability and strike-throwing traits over sheer stuff. Well, Ian Ritchie, Jr. from the state of Washington is not from California unlike Kyle Harrison and Eric Silva, but he surely fits the bill.
He is highly regarded (ranked #38 by Baseball America, #31 by Prospects Live, #27 by MLB.com), a great athlete on the mound, and has plenty of pitchability with his clean, easy, and pretty mechanics. Ritchie is more on par with Silva in terms of stuff but with the frame of Harrison. Ritchie sits in the 92-95 MPH range with his fastball and could touch 97 MPH on his best days.
He has a full, four-pitch mix with a tight mid-80s two-plane slider, a high-70s curveball with more of a vertical break, and a changeup with a good fade that he primarily used against lefties. He has a great feel for his four pitches and can spot his fastball and slider on the edges, which are very impressive traits for a prep pitcher.
The only thing that works against him is that he throws from a true 3/4 arm slot which does not exactly give his fastball the elite movement traits that are typically wanted and he employs a low-90s two-seamer to take advantage of his arm slot. Ritchie might be as close to what the team is looking for from a prep pitcher as it gets and it would not be shocking if he is on the shortlist of 2022 draft targets come summer.
Other prep pitchers to consider include Walter Ford, Jackson Cox, Nazier Mule, and Michael Kennedy.
Ford reclassified for the 2022 class and ended up as one of the youngest, if not the youngest, prospects in this draft class (will not turn 18 until a few days before 2022). This gives him plenty of helium in the coming months and could be gone before the Giants make their selection. Ford is very athletic on the mound, who already throws 97 MPH with his fastball with a good-looking slider with a sharp break and a changeup that is still in the early stages of development.
Jackson Cox is from the same state as Ian Ritchie Jr. who is not that far behind him in terms of the pure stuff. Cox's best pitch is a slider that has elite spin rates (over 3,000 RPM) with a sharp, two-plane break that gets a lot of whiffs against some of the best prep hitters during the summer. His fastball reaches 95 MPH and his control comes and goes, but if you can spin it, you can spin it. Cox might not be a true first-round talent, but he should be on the radar for subsequent picks.
Mule is one of the most electric prospects in the draft class. The two-way prospect from New Jersey is a better prospect on the mound where his athleticism shows up spectacularly with his very dynamic mechanics that he can pump out fastballs that reach up to 101 MPH from a deceptive, low 3/4 arm slot. His slider also flashes plus at times, but he is more of a thrower than a true pitcher because of his double-duty limiting him to developing a consistent feel for the zone. He's one of the youngest players in the class as well and with the way the Giants love their low-arm slot guys with good stuff, he is in the consideration.
The final one is Michael Kennedy from New York, so he will not be seen as often as the prospects who play in the warm states. However, Kennedy has good potential on the mound, where he is also one of the youngest. Kennedy is your prototypical pitchability lefty who has an advanced feel in throwing his three-pitch mix for strikes consistently from a deceptive low 3/4 arm slot. His fastball sits in the low-90s with natural tailing action, his slider and changeup flash above-average with impressive tilt on the slide-piece and a late fade on his changeup.
The only negative thing against Kennedy is that his frame is already filled up with little projection remaining. However, we have seen what Kyle Harrison did and how he blossomed into the pitcher that he is today and it should not be a surprise if the organization targets him on Day 2 to lure him away from his LSU commitment because he is a profile that the organization looks for from the prep pitching demographic.